I was sorely tempted to give SampleTank FREE a 10 rating just because it's so incredible that anything this good could actually be free. My first experience with the IK Multimedia's products came when I bought Miroslav Philharmonik, whose symphonic instruments exceeded my expectations in terms of sample quality, ease of use, and overall usability in my mixes. Thus encouraged, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying SampleTank FREE. I was right.
I can't say I like all the instruments, but that's true of every virtual instrument I own, so that's hardly a negative. Actually, I'm impressed with most of the instruments. Right out of the gate, I found great drum kit and bass sounds that were immediately useful in my compositions with little or no tweaking. The electric pianos are just OK, but maybe there are better instruments in the full version. I was pleasantly surprised by one of the vocal instruments (Soprano Ahh), which is remarkably realistic for the right kind of part. In fact, I'd say that the key to using SampleTank (at least the FREE version) is knowing when and where to use the instruments for their strengths.
I was dismayed to find that using multiple instances of the SampleTank plugin for certain instruments produces a horrid crackling kind of distortion (in Logic Pro 9.x, at least). I called the bug to the attention of support, and their responsiveness was most impressive. They expect to fix it in the v3 release.
Overall, I'm sufficiently impressed with SampleTank FREE to buy the full version, SampleTank XL, but I'll probably wait until the v3 release.
I just downloaded this, and all the available sounds from the site, and on my dialup it took AGES..! There's a lot of big files here and it takes up more than 70MB on my hard drive, so if you don't need another piano, don't get one.
Sampletank has been around for ** years now, and I've always been curious about it. So far, I'm very impressed with this beast, it's very easy to set up and browse through sounds. After downloading and installing it you need to register it, but that's fairly painless and straightforward, though I'm not sure why it's necessary.
As for the sounds, well they're generally very good. The bass guitar is particularly outstanding, and very natural sounding. Also the acoustic guitar is very nice, and has a good range - lots of multisamples me-thinks. Get the vocals, they're excellent, oohs and ahhs. And "LA Pad", a very nice rich, milky sounding pad. The congas and bongos are worth downloading too, I find a lot of keyboards/samplers are quite weak in this area, but Sampletank's perc. is very nice. But don't bother with the drums, they're below average and most PC soundcards will have better drums than this.
I didn't think much of the piano, it's a bit too thin for me, but that means it will probably sit well in a busy mix. However, I'm sticking with my Kurzweil for piano sounds. Also the electric guitar is weak, sounds like a cheap, Strat copy, plugged straight in to a mixer channel. Anyone who plays guitar (I do) would hate this sound.
I don't know why synth sounds are included. While they're okay, there are much better sounding free softsynths out there. And I'm very surprised that there's no brass or woodwind sounds, these generally work well with samplers (there is an oboe, but it doesn't sound like one).
The FX are very good too - well chosen and very musical. You can modify the sounds a little using pre-set parameters and different FX settings, but it's not a full blown rompler in this respect - no real filters, envelopes or LFO's.
Choice of sounds is limited to what's available on the Sampletank site, and that's a bummer. These days, there's loads of really good soundfonts out there and I for one, prefer working with them. They're easy to edit, and cover just about every area. If Soundfonts could be imported into Sampletank.... Well..!
I can't see myself using this very much, probably the bass will get an airing from time to time, and maybe the vocals, but don't let that put you off. If you have a fast connection, get it. It just might be what you're looking for, and it's FREE... (Apart from the download time)
I thought I'd be happy with the free version...but I was so impressed I forked out for LE w/OmniSynth within three days!
Anyway, the instruments: I have never, ever heard two such realistic guitars, the drums are nigh-on perfect (although I think I've got two rim-shots instead of one & a regular snare, but hey...) and the pianos & strings are as you'd expect, but particularly good versions.
You can add four simultaneous effects from a comprehensive list - I'm especially impressed with the 'Lo-Fi' compressor; I 've used it in conjunction with the 'Phonograph' crackle/noise generator to replicate an old 7" single played on a Dansette.
The GUI is fine: five minutes playing around & you'll be familiar with it. The context-sensitive nature means that the knobs' functions will change to suit each instrument. Plus, the online support is great - a dedicated KVR forum.
Great - if you haven't downloaded it already...
I love this thing! The orchestral-strings, old 4-string bass and piano find a way in almost every track I make. The sounds are fantastic and very natural. The bassplayer of my band couldn't tell I used this VSTi on my songs; he actually though it was the real thing.......
The most important thing about the sounds to me is that they fit into almost every mix. Sometimes a "stand alone" sound kinda drowns in the total mix but these presets fit in perfectly. And although the sounds itself are fixed you can tweek a lot using the effects.
Also a big plus is the stability and low CPU compared to the rich sound it provides.
Ofcourse the amount of presets is kinda limited and the main purpose of this thing is to make you intrested in Sampletank LE,XL etc. Don't forget this thing is free. And it worked for me. I just ordered Symphony Strings which includes the LE-version.
It's funny to see how critical some people are towards these kind of free instruments. Ofcourse they're limited and are not as powerfull as some commercial ones. But it seems irralevent to me to compare a free VSTi to ones that cost $300 to $600. I find it amazing that a great sounding instrument like this is for free.
Wow, these reviewers are a tough crowd. The interface may be a little confusing, but I found the sounds to be excellent. I'm only giving a five for features because it is a bit limited... All it needs are more free sounds and a more intuitive patch-loading system. It's reverb is superb and I like the piano better than mda's. If you've got a broadband internet connection and can download all the sounds, I'd say it's well worth it.
Since I still haven't found a soft sampler that I like, I thought I'd give this a try. Although it's not a sampler per se, I liked the idea of the symphonic instruments, and thought it would be nice to start out with the grand piano. After fiddling around trying to get the instrument to show up, I was finally able to get sounds out of it. It wasn't the best thing I'd ever heard; my Yamaha A3000 16mb grand beat the pants off it for sheer quality. Then while I was messing around trying to access some options, my entire system froze. Not just Sonar, but all of Windows. SampleTank looks like a neat idea, but it doesn't look like it's going to work for me in its present form. I run Sonar 2.2 XL on an Athlon 2400 (MSI KT4 Ultra-SR MB) with Win XP Pro.
A very good sound module, the free piano is good, but the free Drum kit sounds wonderful with some use of the inbuilt fx. While it is obviously a promo tool to get us all to buy the full product, it is still very good.
It would be interesting to see how popular this would be if it was possible for users to make new presets.
Great sound for free(a little lost of definition in the low range), very good with jazz tunes ,although I wasn't able to play it in real time(too large latency+lost of notes).By the way, I've seen on IK site there is the new SAMPLE TANK FREE 1.1 that supports not only this compressed free piano but also a 14GB uncompressed version, plus 16 demo sounds and a new piano-strings preset.All together,all FREE!
Latest 8 reviews from a total of 8